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Increase dog's phenobarb?

Species: Dog
Breed: Jack Russell Terrier
Age: 8-11 years
Hi Marie,
My 10 yr old Jack Russell Terrier has been a seizure dog for about 4 years. He is currently on 1 grain of phenobarb per day and split between 2 doses am and pm. His last bloodwork was drawn last week and for some reason he was not even in therapeutic range. He was at 11. He has seizures about every 6 weeks and we are getting close to that now and the weather is changing here in fl and I see that he is jerking alot and showing some signs of possibly seizing soon. He is also on Soloxine 0.2 mg twice a day. I was thinking that I should increase phenobarb to 1 grain tonight to possibly prevent any seizures in the near future. He also had blood drawn only 2 1/2 hours after his last dosage so I don't know if it was accurate.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Thanks for your question. It can definitely be frustrating dealing with a dog who has seizures.

There are dogs that do require higher doses of phenobarbital over time. However, the decision to increase the dose really needs to be made by your vet. They will make that decision based on the latest blood test. If he was not in the therapeutic range then they likely will want to increas the amount that he gets.

I understand wanting to give him extra phenobarb tonight. However, phenobarb takes a week or two to get to a level where it is effective. So, giving an extra dose tonight will not make a difference right away.

Again, it's important to only increase the dose if the vet has recommended it. If we go too high it can be harmful on the liver.

Here's another thought - Has Jr. had his thyroid level checked recently? If not, it's a good idea to do that. If his thyroid level is too low then this can potentially affect his seizures.

You may want to ask your vet about adding a second medication such as potassium bromide. I will sometimes do this if the phenobarb alone is not doing as good a job as I would like.

In regards to the timing of his blood draw, it really is ok to take the sample at any time, so this number should be accurate.

I know it can be worriesome if you think he is about to have another seizure. The good news is that seizures are not painful to dogs. They are probably harder on you than they are on him! I do get concerned if he is having seizures that are lasting more than 5 minutes, or if he is having them several times per day.

The best thing you can do for him tonight is to keep him as quiet as possible. Sometimes extra stress or excitement can cause a dog to have a seizure if they were close to having one.

I really hope things are sorted out soon!

Dr. Marie.


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.